NZ Rugby World - First XV - - UC CHAMPS -

Af­ter 27 con­sec­u­tive UC Cham­pi­onship wins, Christchurch stum­bled at the back end of 2015. They lost on Na­tional TV to St. Andrew’s and de­spite fin­ish­ing top qual­i­fier in the roundrobin were shocked by Shirley in the semi­fi­nals. Ac­com­plished coach Rhys Archibald has been snapped up by the Manawatu Tur­bos, but re­place­ment Danny Porte en­joyed a long ca­reer as a pro­fes­sional player in the UK while the long-serv­ing Mike Drury re­mains in­volved. Porte was a hard-noised prop and Christchurch will have a rel­a­tively big for­ward pack this year spear­headed by im­pres­sive prop Ewan Milnes. This might re­sult in a more for­ward-ori­en­tated ap­proach than usual. Christchurch have im­pressed with their free-wheel­ing style of play in the last two years. They have scored 207 UC Cham­pi­onship tries and still boast threats out wide. Ben Chip­pen­dale and Joseph Taipari are two backs to watch. Chip­pen­dale can play 10, 12 or 15 and is a handy goal-kicker while Taipari is headed to the NRL in 2017 and is noted for his swift foot­work and su­pe­rior ball skills.

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